Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thinking: An undervalued, vital part of writing.

Let me think.
Factoring in time to think, that will probably take about….
Think about that some more.
Rethink this.
Wait. I'm thinking.
Hmm…but what do you really think?

The above are things I say at various points in the drafting, writing, revision, editing, or rewriting process.

I say them to myself.

Reminding myself about the need to factor in thinking time – as a preamble to the drafting time, within the writing time, around the editing time, as part of the research time, before and during the revision time – has become something I do now as a matter of course.

This wasn't always the case.

Time was, I didn't give a thought to thinking time. It happened, of course, but often as a side effect, a belated blip, the thing that popped up and slowed me down.

Now I try hard to recognize, and honor, the time we need to think. About how to approach a topic. About what a story is really about – underneath the topline situation, the this-happened-then-that-happened. About why I'm writing about some particular thing in the first place, and how I could make it better.

About what needs to happen on the page, about why I'm even at the page.

I'm also learning to take, or to ask for (or find a way to insert, quietly), time to think more deliberately before responding to requests, prospective projects, the occasional mean-spirited or disturbing comment, and to my own knee-jerk reactions.

But mostly, I'm now honoring the time that is a vital  -- and largely undervalued and unrecognized – part of writing.

What do you think?


Sheila Boneham said...

I think a lot of writing suffers from lack of thinking (on the part of the writer, not the writing itself!). We're always in such a rush to get things out the door these days that it's always tempting to rush past the reflective process that can take us into deeper meaning and more lasting work. Good post, I think! Thanks, Lisa.

Andrea said...

Because I have a boring job that I have to go to all day long, and a drive to get there and back, and grocery stores to stop at, and soccer games to watch, and insomnia, I spend a lot more time thinking than writing. (Because I have three kids, I wish for a lot more silent thinking time). I turn words over and over and over in my head long before they make it to the page. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or if the freshness gets wrung out of an idea by overthinking(as long as they make it to the page eventually, it's probably ok).

Lesley Green Leben said...

I totally agree, Lisa. Like a good cup of coffee, a story needs time to percolate. I'm always surprised how much the story can improve after a few days of "thinking" about it.
A T-shirt that says: "Don't bother me, I'm thinking," might be a good idea?

Lisa Romeo said...

Yes, @Sheila, that reflection time/activity, the willingness to stay still and not rush something off for submission, or even to hit Publish on a blog post.

Lisa Romeo said...

You know, @Andrea, I love long drives for that very reason, and I have always thought the ability to write (or maybe I should say "draft") in one's head, is a blessing.
Just keep a notebook handy, and maybe learn to pull into a parking lot once in a while to capture it!

Lisa Romeo said...

Oh yes, @Lesley, I'll take a tee shirt in every color!